School Board Members Are Not Elected To Be Dictators


In the recent interview of school board candidates by the Dominion Post, candidate Mike Kelly says, “we have involved everybody” in the decision to site the new green elementary school.

He could not be more wrong. The people the school board involved the least were those the most affected, aside from the schoolchildren: the parents and the general public.

Mon Schools never sent out a notice about school closing and consolidation individually to the parents (through their children in the schools) until 2.5 months after a new school site had been decided on by the board. The only reason they even sent out a notice at that point (the second to last day of school) was due to the pressure from parents who had themselves prepared a note to send out about the upcoming Woodburn and Easton Closure hearings.

So, Mike Kelly, if you really do want to “involve everybody” – especially those most affected – you need to send out announcements and explanations to each individual parent through the schools in a timely manner. This is commonly done for all sorts of school matters large and small. So why was it not done and done repeatedly in this monumental instance? Are there larger decisions made about schools than their possible closure and consolidation? Board members are not elected to proceed like dictators and tyrants, they are elected to involve and be responsive to the public.

Furthermore, it is completely inappropriate to keep the school district’s preferred site for the new school secret for months, then to finally reveal it publicly only to vote to confirm it as the new site 7 days later. Wow, the public had a whole 7 days to jump right in there and examine the site and give their opinion which the school board clearly values oh so much.

It is completely inappropriate to use a bogus evaluation survey of the possible sites, as we have documented was outrageously done.

By now at the least,  it is completely inappropriate to continue to fail to televise  school board meetings, like city council meetings are televised.

It is completely inappropriate to fail to discuss whether or not the intended new school site is a state Policy 6200 violation of hazardous siting when made aware it so obviously is. The entire school board has refused to discuss this terrible situation publicly, let alone admit it.

It is completely inappropriate to pretend and to state that the new school will be a small school, or even a school of 450 students which it is supposed to open at, or that there is enough room in the school when the projected combined enrollment of the to-be-consolidated Easton and Woodburn schools in the year this new school is to open is 464 students – 103 percent of capacity – projected to climb thereafter, projections made even before the recent enrollment boom.

Which over-enrollment students get left out of going to the new school? The board and school district has told the public nothing about the opening projected over capacity enrollment. How will that decision be made, which students go where? The school board has not even told the public that nearby North Elementary and Suncrest Elementary both operated over capacity last year. Has the superintendent ever told the board?

Why does the new green school grant application state that redistricting will take place once the new school is opened? Who approved that? Why do and how can President Parsons and Superintendent Devono continue to deny that redistricting will occur? Why does the school board never speak of it publicly otherwise though it is written in the grant application?

Could you and the rest of the board be any less open to the public, Mike Kelly?

School board candidate Junior Taylor states the revealing obvious:

“When you’re talking to people about it, there’s a feeling of mistrust. They feel like people have been doing things behind their back.”

Mistrust of the school board and Mon Schools administration is long since and deeply earned, as we continue to document in detail. They have operated and continue to operate behind the public’s back. The school board fails to properly supervise the superintendent who operates secretly and, at best, fails to inform the public and possibly the school board as well. One week to consider and select a new school site, anyone? Over capacity enrollment, anyone?

Junior Taylor apparently knows what so much of the public knows or senses, what none of the school board incumbents nor the superintendent can admit: the Monongalia County school board and superintendent have a habit of badly excluding and failing the public. And guess who gets the short end of the stick.

4 Responses to “School Board Members Are Not Elected To Be Dictators”

  1. newcommunityschool Says:

    Martin Baker comments at the Facebook No More Traffic site: “I went to Woodburn…they need a new school….Morgantown is OVER developed and it’s going to continue…the Mileground is always going to be a bottle necked Cluster….it’s as good of a place as any to put a much needed school….where else should they put it…out in the middle of a cow pasture like they did University High?? Think not….let it go already”

    There’s logic for you. The Mileground is terribly congested so let’s not make it better, let’s make it worse! Good of a place as any! What a joke. Yes, University High is terribly located. There is more than one kind of terrible site, and the Mileground site is unhealthy and dangerous for the children, and otherwise noisy and repulsive. For commuters and other road users it’s a headache and an insult. Woodburn, meanwhile, has great schoolgrounds for a new school, which we have said for years Woodburn needs. WVU could have offered much better land by far, say, behind the Bicentennial House, for one example. The Mileground site remains an unhealthy and asinine abomination shoved down the throats of the public.

    A school for children in the pollution track of two congested arterial highways and their intersection. It’s dangerous, unhealthy and wrong, first and foremost. Also against policy and therefore law. It’s more than a bit of a financial boondoggle as well. And it was facilitated by secrecy and deceit.

    • newcommunityschool Says:

      Martin Baker again at the Facebook No More Traffic site: “what about the residence around Woodburn…the school is going to have to accomodate many more students, it’s going to be much larger, and those streets are already barely wide enough for 2 cars….how’s that gonna work? And at least the area around the new school location is business mostly, and not going to disturb residents who are trying to get in and out of their driveways…IF they’re even lucky enough to have one. And what about the people who have to park on the street…Imagine them trying to get to their homes during pick-up time…craziness

      All of a sudden Martin Baker (who on Facebook lists his “hometown” as “The Mileground, Morgantown”) is the great defender of ostensible Woodburn residents. First, the Mileground site for a school is indefensible, and Baker does not even attempt a serious defense. Second, it would be good to have a new small school in Woodburn of say 200 to 350 students rather than a school of 450 students. However, a revitalized and slightly expanded Woodburn schoolgrounds could handle a school of 450 students because the area is not congested in the first place, unlike the Mileground. Only one or two more school buses would be used than are currently, and access to a new school would be off the wider Richwood Avenue rather than Charles Avenue. The parking and pick-up areas would be improved to handle increased traffic and use. And some of the roads and sidewalks in even a modest neighborhood revitalization effort could be improved as well, which would be of general benefit to Woodburn residents and possibly to Jerome Park residents as well. Not to mention having the new facility there for community use and other benefit. There would be some tradeoffs but as many or more positives as negatives. Meanwhile, the Mileground site remains indefensible. Furthermore, blocking the school from going in at the Mileground, might even force/allow the school board to get its act together to build two new schools rather than merely one.

  2. katy ryan Says:

    I asked the Board and Superintendent Devono repeatedly why they failed to notify parents at Woodburn about the plans to close the school until a few days before the end of the school year. (I was one of the parents who finally prepared our own letter about the closure hearings–which the district would not let us distribute.) The response from Devono was they had been waiting on the grant–which was absurd. They delayed over a month after that, and how difficult is it to add the word “contingent”–“These are our plans, contingent upon a grant”–especially when they had *every reason* to believe they would get the grant? Later Nancy Walker came up with another reason: in the past students had been so upset by school closings that they got sick! She did not want to create a panic! Good grief. So, you admit that you withheld vital information about school closings? If the responsible move is to close, relocate, and consolidate, then own your actions: GO TO THE SCHOOL, explain what you are doing, how and why, at a meeting that is publicized to parents. The Board & Superintendent magnificently failed to do this, and they offered outrageous excuses for their failure. On the last days of the academic year, most Woodburn parents knew nothing at all or very, very little about the plans to close the school. Mike Kelly et al can pretend otherwise or tell themselves they made a good faith effort to communicate–but the record on this matter is perfectly clear. Sending out legal notices that minimally comply with the law does not constitute responsible and straight-forward communication with the people who will be most impacted by your decisions.

  3. outsiders thought Says:

    maybe we should really see what the site use to be on the Mileground …if we research it I bet we too could find that it once was a cow pasture However UHS was an abandoned strip mine ….just like the mileground so it justifies spending millions of dollars of taxpayers money for grout to make sure the land does not move with building on it and that is okay and it also justifies .putting a school in a highly traffic area so everyone can see what a green school building looks like…..Martin Baker here is the problem its called community school .and maybe you should see it takes a village to raise a child…not a traffic congested area…where children are not safe, not protected,hazardous health risk and not checked on by the community the surrounds it do your homework and look at the facts

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